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Staying close is important for all couples—even those separated only as far as next room in house. Military requirements are not necessarily easier simply because you share same living space. Long hours and demanding occupational specialties coupled with family responsibilities, can leave even closest couples with little time to connect. Having that connection however, is glue that sticks families together through trials of military life. Yet, surviving trials is only first step towards a successful military marriage. Couples must also learn to make something positive of challenges and come to understand that each challenge is just another opportunity in disguise for growth, both as individuals and as a couple.
Emily Travis chose to go back to school in her husband’s absence—something she feels she would not have chosen to do otherwise. “Todd is having a multitude of new experiences and I know he’ll be different because of them when he comes home,” she relates. “That makes me want to have new experiences and better myself too. I think it’s important not to stagnate myself and stop growing, just because I’m waiting to be reunited with my husband.”
Deployments, separations, and even most successful career in military will eventually end, but marriage is meant to last a lifetime. It is a lesson Wallace’s learned early. “Did we have problems? Absolutely. Were there times I wanted to say it’s Marine Corps or me? Yes. And were there times we were so thick in middle of our difficulties we couldn’t see a way out? Most definitely. But those were times we dug in our heels and just held on. Everything changes. It was just a matter of holding on until better days came, and when they did, we were amazed at how much closer we were for having endured together, and how much our marriage had been strengthened by our faith to stay.”
A party was recently given in honor of John and Melissa by co-workers and friends from Camp Pendleton. John gave a speech about his time in Corps and what it meant to have Melissa by his side whole way. He spoke of his years of service, happiness they had shared and tears they had shed. He talked of achievements and honors he had gained in Corps. Yet, to sum up, he had only one thing to say. “I am Marine,” relates John, “but Melissa gives me heart.”
Barbara Eastom-Bates has been married to the Marine Corps for eight years, and is the mother of two children. She is the author of the upcoming release, "Basic Training for Brides-to-Be," and develops quality of life media for LIFELines Services Network. Her work additionally appears in Good Sense and Military Spouse magazines.